Tuesday Reflection by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/040522.cfm

Sometimes our readings seem a bit complicated, so we need to simplify them for ourselves in order to dwell on their deeper meaning.  We can take a single verse, or a single phrase, or even a single word and sit quietly with our choice.

For today’s gospel, I did that, and the phrase I chose is ‘lift up’ from this sentence:

“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM.”

When they lifted up Jesus, they didn’t lift him up as a hero, like athletes lift up their coaches in their shoulders.  They didn’t lift up Jesus by giving him a seat of honor on a stage in front of an admiring crowd.  No, when they lifted up Jesus, they took him to a hill and nailed him to a cross.

We don’t like to dwell on the suffering Jesus endured on the cross out of love for us.  It is too gruesome to imagine and too hard to comprehend.  And yet, it is the cross that is in the shadow of all our lives in Christ.

  • We are gathered in this sacred space in the shadow of the cross.
  • We are each members of the Body of Christ because we began our Christian lives by being marked at our baptisms with the sign of the cross.
  • Crosses hang reverently in our homes to remind us that we are sanctified by the cross.
  • As we pray now at Mass, we begin and end with this powerful, mysterious, lifegiving sign.
  • And at our burial, we will be marked for the last time in this life with the sign of the cross.

As Holy Week approaches, it would be well to reflect with intention on the cross.  As we gaze upon it now:

  • think of Jesus abandoned by his friends, humiliated and scorned by officials, beaten and stripped by ruthless guards,
  • picture the rocky path and his barren feet that had to walk it bearing a heavy cross,
  • hear the pounding of the nails and the jeering of the people,
  • hear Jesus struggle to say: “I thirst”, “Behold your mother”, “Father, forgive them”, “It is finished.”

Reflect on how he finished his death…with forgiveness, with love, with hope, with grace.  He did all that for us.

Today, as we make the sign of the cross on ourselves, let us do so with renewed reverence, with devote attention, and with deep gratitude for suffering and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.